Puppies

Sometimes I swear McDiesel and the puppy are in competition for who can destroy the house first.

The puppy chewed the corners off the vintage needlepoint seats of my 1920s mahogany dining chairs, but McD had already thrown a few of them over so many times they’re pretty much sticks anyway. So it’s kind of hard to say who’s winning.

The sad state of affairs in my dining room, together with the past week’s awkward momversations on the soccer sidelines and dinner invites (“Bring the boys!”) we’ve bowed out on, has got me thinking about the best way to describe McD’s ADHD to people who don’t know what it’s like (you know, so soccer-mom acquaintances don’t just think I’m deranged and colleagues don’t think we’re rude).

Having a little kid with ADHD like McD’s is like having a puppy that does all (all) of the usual naughty puppy things.

Our particular naughty puppy is a perfect illustration: he is impervious to discipline, has no respect for cause and effect, and apparently has very little common sense. I take something away from him fifty times in a row, and he’ll go get it again the second my back is turned (and look at me all innocent and confused when I rip it away savagely again). He ignores his doggie toys and chewies and instead gnaws everything valuable, irreplaceable, or generally off-limits. (How he found our house sitter’s $130 Jack Rogers sandal under the guest bed a week after she left last July and why he would chew the heel of this shoe and not several other less expensive options, I have no idea.) Every throw pillow in the house is stacked on top of the highboy in the dining room as the one place the puppy has not managed to reach so far. (This does not help the aesthetic appeal of the dining room, I’m afraid.) Every strategy or solution we come up with to contain the naughtiness and stem the devastation (put the puppy in the backyard), the puppy somehow–inexplicably–baffles (he pulls and chews the very nice hammock to shreds). When I push his yelps to the limit of what I think our neighbors will stand for and let him back in the house, he takes his dirty paws directly to the couch.

Whenever he’s not causing obvious mayhem, I have to stop what I’m doing and look around to make sure he’s not gnawing the edges of our antique Persian living room rug (again). The only time I don’t worry he’s up to no good is when he’s in his crate. (But then we have to listen to him bark and howl and whine.)

The puppy is this galloping, yelping force of energy with teeth and claws that demands attention. He is also loving and cute. He wants to play and lick. He is good-natured and (sometimes) eager to please. That dog infuriates me (my dining room!), but when I’m about to snap, I tell myself he can’t really help it. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing. He’s only a puppy. And, anyways, he’s already here.

It’s really not so different having a little kid with ADHD. It’s like always having a puppy. Some days the puppy seems to be growing out of the chewing-needlepoint-seat phase, and then the next day, he’s pulled up squares of your parquet floor. You take all the precautions you can; you keep all the bedroom doors closed, for instance. But then you find while you were reading bedtime stories with the dog locked out (peace!), he was gouging into the hallway wall with his teeth.

And that’s why normal sideline mom talk and family dinner invitations are also stacked up on the metaphorical highboy, out of reach, until it’s safer down here.

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